by Pixeleen Mistral on 24/08/10 at 10:45 pm
Philip Linden took pen in hand today to warn Second Life players the controversial Emerald Viewer has been removed from the official list of third party viewers stating "We will not tolerate a viewer that includes malicious code, nor will we tolerate development teams with a history of violating users’ trust or disrupting their lives" on the Second Life blog.
Underlining the gravity of the situation, the Linden Lab CEO also sent virtual world residents personal e-mails – a task would could not have been fast, easy, or fun – encouraging players to flee the to other viewers: "If you have been using the Emerald viewer, for now we would encourage you to consider either one of the Linden Lab viewers, or an alternative third-party viewer".
The Herald contacted the Lab for comment, and Linden Lab PR specialist Pete Linden provided this statement:
As a result of multiple violations of the Policy, we have removed the listing of the Emerald viewer from the Third Party Viewer Directory.
We have insisted that the Emerald development team make transparent to the Second Life community the functionality of its viewer code and the user data that the Emerald viewer collects. We strongly urge all Residents who continue to use the Emerald viewer to make these demands as well. We also caution Residents of the potential risks involved in using certain versions of the Emerald viewer. Although we have not at this time disallowed use of the Emerald viewer entirely, we may do so if the problems with the viewer are not appropriately remedied by the Emerald development team.
This requirement could be a problem for the Emerald viewer, which has a history of gathering full directory path names (which can include real life typists’ names) and baking these into avatar textures without the knowledge of the users. A dispute over this practice led to the departure of LordGregGreg from the Emerald gang recently after Lonely Bluebird (a.k.a. Phox) promised to remove the privacy leak, but did not. Lonely Bluebird remains on the Emerald development team.
The Lab’s statement supports claims by reliable sources that removal of the Emerald viewer from the third party viewer list was a unilateral action on the part of Linden Lab. This contradicts Emerald developer Skills Hak’s assertion that Emerald asked to be removed from the third party viewer list to transfer ownership of the listing from Fractured Crystal.
Mr. Crystal was thrown out of the gang in the wake of an Emerald viewer-based DDOS attack — although the Emerald gang leadership told the Herald this was not really a denial of service. Arabella Steadham – who does not lie – may want to consult with the Lab on their definition of a denial of service attack.
With Linden Lab cautioning players against using certain versions of the Emerald viewer, it may be only a matter of time before some or all versions are banned – unless appropriate remedies are enacted by the Emerald developers. Remedies may soon be moot however, if the players heed the Lab’s warning to flee Emerald.